A second whistle


A suggested amendment to a Rule of Hockey

The current Rule 1.4.d

use all the available tools for control
Action. Amendment. Addition

Reason. Clarification. Improvement of control.


Useful comment and suggestions are welcome.

The headings below could be greatly expanded for umpire coaching purposes but the primary purpose here is to propose the introduction of a ‘second whistle’ so I will focus on that proposal and the reasons for it.

Rule 1.4.d. Know how to use all the available control techniques (tools).

Positioning, Presence, Body Language, Timing, Whistle, Signals, Voice, Cards.

Second whistle.

When a free-ball is awarded or a restart is to be taken, play will recommence with a second whistle signal, the first whistle signal having been made to interrupt play and signal penalty. The second whistle signal will be given immediately the umpire is satisfied that the ball is stationary and in the correct position.

The giving of the second whistle signal will not be delayed because players of the team the free is awarded against have not retreated or are not retreating to attempt to get 5m from the ball. If there is such failure to comply with the Rule requirements from the team the free has been awarded against, further umpire intervention and more severe penalty may be required.

Whenever there is a free ball awarded or a restart is being taken, the team about to take it will be required to start with the ball in the correct (an acceptable) position and to make the ball stationary (In the introduction to the current rule-book the FIH RC declare that umpires are not adequately requiring that the ball be stationary – even if only briefly) . Players will sometimes try to gain an unfair advantage by not complying with one or other or neither of these requirements. It is far easier and quicker to ensure compliance before such events occur than to stop play and to reset or reverse the free-ball or re-start. One way to do this is to make it impossible to continue play until there is compliance.

At present the umpire blows the whistle to signal intervention and gives an hand-arm signal to indicate in which direction a free ball has been awarded. Only if the ball is not made stationary or is not placed reasonably close to where it should have been placed when the free is taken will the umpire be required to take any further action. But sometimes necessary further action because of non-compliance is not taken, when it should be.Teams should not be permitted to disadvantage opponents unfairly by, deliberately or otherwise, not complying with rule requirements when taking a free ball.

In the video below (which is one of the large number of umpire coaching videos about the self-pass produced by the FIH and previously presented on dartfish.com) the umpire blows the whistle and signals direction but does not maintain sufficient presence to ensure that there is Rule compliance from the team awarded the free ball. (This compounded the mistake he made by incorrectly penalising the NZL player for obstruction – if that was the reason [which was stated to be the case in the provided ‘interpretation of the action given with the video] he penalised the NZL player – when the RSA player should instead have been penalised for an impeding offence).

That an umpire coach should select this play as an example of an umpire correctly applying advantage, because complying with the Rule might have disadvantaged the player taking the awarded free ball, is incredible.

That aside, the situation could not have arisen if it was standard practice for an umpire to whistle to signal intervention and the stopping of play whenever that was considered necessary and also standard practice to blow the whistle for a second time immediately the ball was satisfactorily positioned and stationary. With such standard practice the players of the team awarded a free ball would comply with the Rule requirements for the taking of a free ball as rapidly as possible and not, as at present, try to avoid compliance if they think they can rush the umpire into going along with such contravention (or they believe, often correctly, that the umpire will be either too flustered and confused or too lazy to call play back and have the free taken correctly or to reverse it).


(The following part is taken from a previous article on the FIH umpire coaching videos about the self-pass. The comment with it is edited and shortened for this article)

Self-pass 4 FIH Umpiring Committee umpire coaching video – Analysis


The comment about the moving ball is very strange ‘interpretation’. It is a Rule condition of the ‘Free Hit’ that the ball be stationary when the free is taken (I don’t see a stationary ball at any point after the whistle was blown for the supposed offence). Umpires sometimes ‘bend’ this Rule if there is clearly an attempt made to make the ball stationary (something that has ‘wandered in’ from indoor hockey) but ignoring the requirement, because complying with it might disadvantage the taker, is not an option. If players get into the habit of making the ball stationary (which can be done in an instant) the problem doesn’t arise and the fact that the second whistle will not be blown until the ball is both stationary and in the correct place should encourage rapid compliance with the requirement – and very shortly improve game flow by completely removing a need for further interventions when a free ball is taken.


This second video, below, is not one of those produced by the FIH for umpire coaching but it is a good example of a situation where obliging an umpire to ensure there was Rule compliance and then – and only then – blowing the whistle for a second time to permit play to recommence would have ensured fair play.

The positioning of the ball for what was supposed to have been a 15m ball and the number of touches made before the restart was considered taken are both matters for concern in the following incident. (The umpire then compounded this sloppiness by awarding a free ball to the Spanish side, penalising the ball-body contact of the New Zealand player, instead of, as he should have, awarding a free to the New Zealand team because of dangerous play of the Spanish player.).

Example. of the ball not being stopped at all when a free-ball was awarded for an infringement within the circle.

In the following incident there was no attempt to make the ball stationary before the self-pass was taken and a team-mate of the taker was not 5m from the ball (a requirement in the 23m area) – defenders were given no opportunity to get 5m from the ball.

The umpire fails to enforce compliance to the Free Hit Rules, in effect manufacturing the conditions for the penalty corner he then awarded.

The player taking the awarded free does not allow the defender to retreat from the ball – immediately charging directly into him and then deliberately playing the ball into his feet. (at the time there was some very strange ‘interpretation’ about direction of retreat being applied)

Play at frantic speed, with neither side attempting to comply to 5m requirements – which caused a break-down in play much longer than ensuring a properly taken free ball would have done.

Not retreating the full 5m can be employed as a means to delay play and pack the defence when a free ball is awarded – perhaps an objection to the introduction of a second whistle – but the use of a second whistle ensures opponents are 5m away and the umpire has clear indication when compliance is not taking place and may, where appropriate, upgrade the penalty or award a personal penalty.

The Ned player commits an obstruction offence followed by a forcing offence (at the time still extant) and then immediately, on realising it is not he that is being penalised, takes a self-pass, before the GER players, who are appealing for the award of a free ball against the NED player, have been given any opportunity to retreat. The penalty corner was awarded for failure to retreat 5m.

In the above and many more similar incidents, some of which would have required telepathy for the players to immediately know in which direction they should be moving, a second whistle would have done much to ensure fair play.



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